Everyone acknowledges the two sides of conservation - ecological and cultural - but little attention is paid to the latter. Adventure Life believes it is critical that local people be made active partners in developing a local tourism industry. Money generated by tourism should stay in the community. This means hiring local guides, staying in locally owned hotels, and using the local transportation infrastructure - issues that have been at the heart of our travel philosophy from the beginning.
Travelers can make another important contribution - information. Material benefits often slip through the hands of the local community. Honest information from travelers from the outside world can help people make informed decisions, empowering them in their own economic development. So join us on a journey of learning and discovery, and share a bit of yourself in a land of warm smiles and open hearts.
How to be a Sustainable Traveler
(adapted from Leave No Trace)
A recent survey prepared by the Travel Industry Association of America with the support of the National Geographic Society suggests that more than 55 million American travelers desire travel experiences that "protect and preserve the ecological and cultural environment" of the destinations they visit. An even greater number, 77 million, prefer to learn as much as possible about their destination's customs, geography and culture. To meet these demands something called "community tourism" has developed. Community tourism refers to locally-initiated offerings that preserve the natural and cultural resources of destinations, while producing better livelihoods and higher standards of living for residents. It empowers local people to identify the cultural and natural resources in their midst and convert them into assets that can improve the economic life of their community. In so doing, community tourism becomes the engine for restoring and preserving those irreplaceable resources. This style of tourism falls under the umbrella of low-impact, socially conscious travel widely know as "ecotourism."
Each trip we take creates an opportunity to have either a positive or negative effect on our destination; thankfully, the choice is ours. By spending our tourism dollars responsibly and patronizing outfitters and lodges that practice ecotourism, we send a powerful message. Our habits can encourage others to follow our lead, and challenge the average company to raise the bar when it comes to managing their environmental footprint. For more information on how to be a sustainable traveler, check out the advice below...
There are conflicting uses of the term ecotourism. Many tour operators use this term for marketing purposes only, appealing to the public's increased awareness of environmental matters. Other tour companies are very careful to construct their itineraries in an eco-friendly way. Each trip you take is an opportunity to make a difference, and by doing some preliminary research you can select an environmentally responsible company whose trips benefit the communities in which they take place.
Here are a list of questions to help you discern if the company you are selecting really is an eco-tour company:
Does the company:
When you are away from home there are a number of steps you can take to help ensure tourism remains a positive experience from everyone and that we leave places as we found them:
Be Respectful of Nature
Pack it in, Pack it out
Protect Water Systems & Oceans
Leave what you Find
Be Considerate of Other Visitors
Respect Cultural Differences
Here is one of our most recent -- and favorite -- examples of giving back after your travels. Inspired by a visit to the local Q'eros community in Peru, Adventure Life travelers took the following initiative:
Since Adventure Life always advocates bringing things to help the local population we had asked [our guide] Boris back in 2006 on our Macchu Picchu trip whether the kids needed pencils etc for school. He said they never got colored pencils. So we sent 200 boxes of crayons to him and he and his wife distributed them this May. We held off last year sending them because of the earthquake and postal services were slow. Anyway because of you all connecting us to Boris we were able to help. Now we will have to see what else we can do since the school is obviously not in great condition. We figure that in 2010 we will try and go back there with family and set up a trip just to do that and see what aid we can take.